November 5

Maria Santissima della Stella, Rotondi, Avellino, Campania, Italy

There are two Madonnas of the Star in Rotondi. The story goes that loggers from Rotondi found a wooden statue of the Virgin in the Partenio mountains between Rotondi and Avella. They brought the statue back to Rotondi, where its hillside shrine on the outskirts became a focus of devotion. Believing the miracle-working statue belonged in their territory, people from Avella came to take it. The shrine's caretaker rang the alarm bell, and citizens came running to defend their Madonna with sticks, farm tools, and firearms. The thieves dropped the statue into a ravine, damaging it. Like the old statue itself, dated to various eras by different authors (800s-1000s, Tirone; 1100s-1300s, Zullo), the attempted theft is of uncertain date (1300, Montanile; late 1600s, Zullo). What is certain is that, following a devastating earthquake in 1702, Cardinal Archbishop Orsini, the future Pope Benedict XIII, consecrated a new sanctuary there on November 5, 1704. Appalled by the condition of the old statue, the Cardinal gave the shrine a new image of the Madonna (above right), which arrived August 10, 1705. This statue remains on the main altar and processes on feast days; the old one, long exiled to the parish Church of the Annunciation, was restored in 2014 and installed in a case in the Sanctuary of Most Holy Mary of the Star (below right). All that remains of it is the upper body of the Madonna, with the child's head perched on her shoulder. The Madonna of the Star also has two feasts. On Easter morning, a costumed firing of arquebuses recalls the town's prevention of the theft. The statue is brought down from the shrine, and two days later, on Tuesday, it tours the town, returning to the sanctuary on Sunday. The sequence is repeated again the first Sunday in August, with the processional tour on August 15, feast of the Assumption, and the return on the Sunday following. 

Sources include:

bulletDomenico Tirone, "Rotondi e il Santuario Maria SS. della Stella," Istituto Anselmi, Martigliano, 1982, quoted in
bulletMassimo Zullo, "Rotondi: Il Santuario della Madonna della Stella," Irpinia ed Irpini Anno 5, no. 5-12, 2011, p. 5,
bulletNicola Montanile, "AVELLA. L'apparizione della Madonna e la contesa della statua con Rotondi: accadde nel 1300," Apr 20, 2014,
bulletSantuario Maria SS. della Stella in Rotondi, (pictures)

Also commemorated this date:

bulletNossa Senhora da Medalha Milagrosa, Monte Sião, Minas Gerais, Brazil. Drought ended after procession, 1939.

Where We Walked ~~~ Mary Ann Daly